Footnotes in Gaza

By Joe Sacco.

I have never read anything like this – a graphic novel which is also political and researched. Joe Sacco lived in Gaza and interviewed hundreds of people about two atrocities which occurred in 1956. Alongside this we have the narrative of his research which encompasses the political situation at the time of writing. The resulting graphic novel is hugely impressive for its complexity, craft and documentary evidence. The drawings are superb and to Sacco’s credit he canvasses both sides of the story and highlights the problems with older memories as testimony. The result is a work in which his opinion is evident but one that points out issues in both sides. I now know so much more about this conflict. The plight of those victimised for generations is quite unbelievable.

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wilsonBy Daniel Clowes.

This is the first graphic novel I have ever read – and I thought it was great. What has put me off reading any previously is probably the ‘superpower’ element that seems to be a part of so many comics – sorry ‘graphic novels’. But this was entertaining, meaningful and funny. The main character Wilson seems to blunder through life with no tact whatsoever exposing his neuroses for all to see and searching desperately for some kind of meaning. Whilst he is an arse, he is still treated with a touch of sympathy so that we don’t give up on him completely.

One thing I really liked was that each page was an episode and each was drawn differently. Now, this could be Daniel Clowes showing what a versatile artist he is – which is fine, but it is maybe nicer to think of it in that these episodes can be seen many ways. We are forced to see Wilson in a very simply drawn form then in quite a detailed film-noir character with all the shades in between. It was a great idea.

Having read and enjoyed this first graphic novel, which was gifted, I have decided it won’t be the last. The trick will be finding the good ones to buy as it is a strange new world that I know nothing about. All I know is that superheroes don’t interest me; but Wilson, as the polar opposite of a superhero, did.

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